My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Why I’ll never change, what will be eaten?

Beauty may not be art, but don’t try to tell that to nature, at least not the way that my eyes see things.

Canopy of color

Canopy of color

But, along with the appreciation I have for nature as an artist, I also have a deep curiosity about wildlife, the way that it behaves, and what different critters eat. So. I’m going to devote the rest of this post to photos of wildlife that I’ve captured as they are go about their daily routines of finding suitable food to eat.

With squirrels, that’s usually rather easy.

Red squirrel and hickory nut

Red squirrel and hickory nut

 

Butterflies are easy too, they drink the nectar from flowers.

Monarch butterfly on an aster

Monarch butterfly on an aster

 

Monarch butterfly on an aster

Monarch butterfly on an aster

 

Monarch butterfly on an aster

Monarch butterfly on an aster

However, with some other forms of wildlife, things can be a bit tougher to photograph, as most birds and other critters try to stay hidden as much as they can. Case in point, I had this ruby-crowned kinglet in my sights, but it ducked behind a leaf as I was pressing the shutter release.

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Sometimes, Mother Nature fools critters into thinking they are going to get a meal, and they may, but they are also helping another organism reproduce, as this stinkhorn fungi does. The fruiting body of the stinkhorn fungi, at some stage in development, is covered with a foul-smelling slime. The foul-smelling slime is calculated to attract flies and other insects, who land on the slime and gobble it up. Little do the insects know that they have been duped into covering their little insect feet with stinkhorn spores, and have ingested spores into their digestive tracts! Later, these spores are dispersed by the unwitting insects, and the stinkhorn life-cycle continues elsewhere.

Stinkhorn fungi and fly

Stinkhorn fungi and fly

 

Stinkhorn fungi and fly

Stinkhorn fungi and fly

I caught this whitetail doe munching on what I think is a fern, or a fern-like plant that is quite common here.

Whitetail doe eating a fern

Whitetail doe eating a fern

But, she heard the shutter of my camera going, and stopped eating to check to see if I presented any danger to her.

Whitetail doe on alert

Whitetail doe on alert

Other times, I get lucky and the critter that I’m photographing is more intent on a meal than it is in worrying about me, as this pileated woodpecker was as it lapped up ants that it had dislodged from within a tree.

Pileated woodpecker lapping up ants with its tongue

Pileated woodpecker lapping up ants with its tongue

 

I’m not sure if this downy woodpecker was eating aphids from under leaves, or if the aphids were just hitching a ride.

Male downy woodpecker with aphids on its bill

Male downy woodpecker with aphids on its bill

 

Male downy woodpecker with aphids on its bill

Male downy woodpecker with aphids on its bill

 

Male downy woodpecker with aphids on its bill

Male downy woodpecker with aphids on its bill

I do know that this catbird was chowing down on grapes.

Grey catbird eating grapes

Grey catbird eating grapes

Despite the fact that sparrows are primarily seed eaters, this juvenile white-crowned sparrow apparently felt the need for a salad on this day.

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow eating plants

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow eating plants

 

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow eating plants

Juvenile white-crowned sparrow eating plants

Unfortunately, I never got a photo showing what this red-bellied woodpecker was finding to eat, but the photos show the way that woodpeckers use their long tongues to probe for insects deep in wood.

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

 

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

 

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

 

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

 

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

 

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

Red-bellied woodpecker probing for food

I just posted a photo of a catbird eating grapes, but that species is omnivorous, eating both plant life as shown earlier, as well as insects, as these two photos show.

Grey catbird eating an insect

Grey catbird eating an insect

 

Grey catbird eating an insect

Grey catbird eating an insect

Thistle seeds are a favorite food of the American goldfinch.

American goldfinch eating thistle seeds

American goldfinch eating thistle seeds

I don’t know what species of wasp this is, or if it’s even a wasp, but it was enjoying eating the pears that had fallen from a tree.

Wasp eating the fruit of a pear tree

Bald faced hornet eating the fruit of a pear tree

 

Wasp eating the fruit of a pear tree

Bald faced hornet eating the fruit of a pear tree

Sometimes, it looks as though a bird has found something to eat, and it has, but the bird doesn’t eat what it has found, it is chewing the food for one of its young, as this cardinal was doing.

Male northern cardinal chewing up a beetle for its offspring

Male northern cardinal chewing up a beetle for its offspring

 

Male northern cardinal chewing up a beetle for its offspring

Male northern cardinal chewing up a beetle for its offspring

Unfortunately, I missed the food exchange this time. If you look very closely at that last photo, you can see a young cardinal hiding in the leaves in the upper left of the frame, waiting for dad to come with the food. But, I did catch this exchange and posted a series of photos earlier.

Adult male northern cardinal feeding it's young

Adult male northern cardinal feeding it’s young

Oh, I forgot, butterflies aren’t the only insects that drink the nectar from flowers, so do bees.

Bumblebee on an aster

Bumblebee on an aster

 

Bumblebee on an aster

Bumblebee on an aster

 

Honeybee and chicory

Robber fly and chicory

 

Honeybee and chicory

Robber fly and chicory

 

Honeybee and chicory

Robber fly and chicory

 

Some critters have learned that people are slobs, and when the humans leave, they go looking for food that the humans left behind.

Eastern chipmunk eating a raisin

Eastern chipmunk eating a raisin

 

Eastern chipmunk eating a raisin

Eastern chipmunk eating a raisin

Did I mention that squirrels love nuts?

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

There you have it, why I’ll never stop shooting and posting what I find interesting in nature, along with what I find beautiful in nature.

Sunrise gull in flight

Sunrise gull in flight

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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17 responses

  1. Art is defined by the indivdual who wittnesses it. To me Mother Nature is the penultimate artist. Your photos prove me right!

    October 3, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    • Thank you very much Cindy! Mother Nature is the artist, I’m just the finger on the shutter release.

      October 4, 2015 at 7:56 pm

  2. Loved the colours in the first picture, very interesting and a well shot post.

    October 4, 2015 at 3:08 am

  3. Sorry it dashed off before I could finish, thanks for the squirrels and chipmunks, you know how much I enjoy seeing them.

    October 4, 2015 at 3:09 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! I loved those colors in the first photo too, and I’m glad that you enjoy seeing a few of our fuzzy critters from here.

      October 4, 2015 at 8:02 pm

  4. I loved this post, Jerry! It was wonderful to see the behaviour of all these critters in their natural environment. I was quite excited to see the beautiful goldfinches eating thistle seeds. They are one of my favourite American birds and thistles are special to me because of my childhood. Thank you for these wonderful pictures. To me nature is the original art. Much of what we do is inspired by nature, whether we realise it or not. I guess you could say we plagiarise nature in many of our human designs. Keep up the great art/education. 🙂

    October 4, 2015 at 5:41 am

    • Thank you very much Jane! You may be happy to know that I have a few more photos of the goldfinches eating thistles left to post, when I can find them. As I told some one else, Mother Nature is the artist, I’m just the finger on the shutter re;ease. You’re correct, we do plagiarize nature all the time.

      October 4, 2015 at 8:14 pm

  5. The wasp eating a pear is a bald faced hornet, and the only reason I know that is because I got stung by one last week. They really mean business and my arm hurt for days. You got some great shots of him!
    In fact all of these are great shots and I hope you don’t stop shooting more like them right away! It looks like you’re getting some good fall colors there so that should keep you occupied for a while.
    That last shot of the gull is my favorite this time but the chipmunk with a raisin is a close second.

    October 4, 2015 at 8:04 am

    • Thank you very much Allen! I’m sorry that you went out and got yourself stung by the hornet just to help me ID it. 😉 If they sting that hard, I’m glad that I used the 300 mm lens, extender, and an extension tube to shoot the photos so I could stay a healthy distance away.

      The fall colors are just starting here, but I’m afraid that it’s going to be a poor year for fall foliage. Too many trees have turned brown or dropped their leaves already.

      October 4, 2015 at 8:21 pm

  6. Looks like you haven’t got much fall color happening there yet, Jerry. There really isn’t angry ng happening colorwise here in the Hudson River Valley, where we are either. Disappointing, as I love to see color in the hills.

    Seems like birds must have to eat all day. Takes a lot of energy to fly, and how many calories can an aphid or ant have?

    While we were in Mystic, CT, we must have been along the goose migration path. We had hundreds fly over every day we were there. What a racket!

    October 4, 2015 at 8:47 am

    • Thank you very much Judy. No, there’s not a lot of color yet, and I doubt that this will be a good year for it, but I hope that I’m wrong.

      Some birds do seem to eat non-stop, others seem to spend most of their time lounging and only a little time finding food. I’m not about to try ants or aphids to see how many calories they have, despite the UN suggestions that we begin eating insects. 🙂

      That racket from the geese is music to my ears!

      October 4, 2015 at 8:25 pm

  7. You have really gathered some spectacular shots to form your album. Love the squirrel and the Monarch image, they are all really outstanding images.

    October 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Charlie! I wouldn’t say that the photos are spectacular or outstanding, they’re just good shots of critters living their lives.

      October 4, 2015 at 8:31 pm

  8. An excellent selection for your readers’ enjoyment. Thank you very much.

    October 4, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom!

      October 4, 2015 at 8:14 pm

  9. Some really great shots, Jerry and such interesting observations. I love the little sparrow and the red-bellied woodpecker shots.

    October 4, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I do a reasonably good job of photographing birds and other critters in their natural settings as they go about their lives, I hope to do more of these posts in the future.

      October 4, 2015 at 8:29 pm